Website Update: A Smooth Launch and More to Come

Darcy Lewis, Website Committee Chair

For most of the world, October 1, 2021, may have felt like just another Friday. For members of ASJA leadership and the website committee, as well as Think33 and Kellen, October 1 was the day we’d been working toward for nearly 18 months: Launch Day for the new ASJA website.

And what a day that was! Leading up to the launch, we ramped up from one to two standing meetings per week. Executive Director James Brannigan marshaled the technical team at Kellen, while I continued my close work with our web developers at Think33. We are extremely fortunate that President Laura Laing was able to temporarily set aside many of her other commitments to turn her keen attention to writing web copy, reviewing pages, and generally shepherding the site across the finish line. Our technical partners worked many late nights—and even a few overnights—to help us reach our drop-dead goal of an October 1 launch. We are so grateful!

Excitement built throughout the morning of October 1 as emails flew furiously, counting down and checking off the final tasks and making sure the homepage (at least) was perfect. At 12:14 Eastern Time, the “go ahead and turn it on” email made the rounds and at 12:16 Eastern Time, 44 minutes ahead of our planned 1:00 Eastern launch time, we officially launched.

It’s also time to recognize and thank the many ASJA volunteers who got us to this point.

Thanks to the Website Committee:

Jessica Brown

Dara Chadwick

Arielle Emmett

Jane Langille

Kim Nagy

Keith Paradise

In particular, I wish to recognize the outstanding contributions of Jane Langille and Dara Chadwick. Jane spearheaded the logo refresh project and devoted countless hours to the site’s strategic development. Dara became the project’s content lead and shared her expertise most generously.

Thanks to the Content Curation Subcommittee:

Sally Abrahms

Suzanne Bowles

Anne Cassidy

Jackie Dishner

Marijke Vrooman Durning

Theresa Sullivan-Barger

Thank you to the ASJA Board members, past and present, who saw the need for a new web presence as vibrant and energetic as the organization itself and provided sage wisdom and guidance, even as they were being asked to open the purse strings to make the new website a reality. Laura Laing and Emily Paulsen provided support, insights, and a sounding board when needed, week after week, month after month. James Brannigan, AKA Mr. ASJA, used his encyclopedic knowledge of ASJA to full advantage in helping make the new website a reality.

The Board chose wisely when they selected Think33 to develop and build our website. They have been true partners every step of the way. Special thanks go to key Think33 personnel, including Seth Singer, Geoff Weeks, Patchen Barrs, Sarah Dowse, and Mher Amirkhanyan. Content marketing writers: if you have any clients contemplating new websites, do them a favor and put them in touch with Think33.

On the Kellen side, David Rosenthal, Haroon Qureshi, Pam Reid, Samir Shallwani, and Michael Patti have logged many hours in a compressed timeframe to build the member portal and make our site a reality. Ian Clements, the new ASJA membership coordinator, came on board and learned the ropes during the website project, adding support and providing much-needed backup for James. We could not have done this without Kellen’s support and expertise.

We would not have a new website without the generous donations from members during our 70th Anniversary Campaign. Thank you to Sherry Beck Paprocki and Brooke Stoddard, who spearheaded this campaign, and to Sandra Gurvis, who managed the Charity Buzz event that brought in $10,000.

More to Come on the Website

All these public acknowledgements may make it seem like the Website Committee is riding off into the sunset, but nothing could be further from the truth. Work will continue to fully build out the new website for several months to come, at the very least.

Here’s what we’ll be working on in the near future:

  • Refining the sitemap slightly to align with current UX best practices
  • Building out the member profiles and Find a Writer backend functionality
  • Tweaking various page designs and photo selections
  • Adding the complete database of award winners
  • Building out the WEAF pages and the national conference microsite
  • Adding recorded products (conference sessions, webinars, and podcasts)
  • Creating onscreen help files
  • Expanding the Resources section
  • Adding a central volunteer sign-up page in WordPress
  • Adding a central new repository in WordPress where members can upload professional news
  • Creating an admin/user manual
  • Copying and building out the Paycheck database
  • Adding tags to Confidential blog posts
  • Building out an online solution for ASJA Magazine (Don’t worry, you’ll still get your print issue in the mail, members! And the online version of the magazine will remain a member-only benefit.)
  • Developing a sustainable, streamlined technical solution for Client Networking events, including Client Connections, Virtual Client Connections, and Virtual Pitch Slam)
  • Revising the web copy so that it shines

These improvements will continue to enrich and deepen the website’s value to ASJA members in ways both large and small. I’ll be reporting on these developments as needed throughout the next few months.

In the meantime, please do your part by creating and populating your member profile as soon as possible. Thanks for reading and stay tuned to see what comes next!